Bend’s amazing food cart pods are brimming with beer taps

Picnic tables. Fire pits. Flowing craft beer.

Food trucks are great, and most cities have them. What sets Bend apart are its food cart pods. These permanent clusters of mobile food vendors are tucked into neighborhoods, offering a laid-back and inviting atmosphere to enjoy a meal and a pint with friends, kids, even the dog. At last count, Bend had seven of these delightful gathering places.

Most are outdoors or indoor-outdoor, with covered seating, twinkly lights, music and –always – a separate tap “room” stocked with craft beer, wine, cider, kombucha and nitro coffee. Here are three we visited repeatedly on a recent trip to Bend.

The Lot, one of several food and beer pod concepts in Bend, offers about 16 rotating taps of beer, cider, wine and more. (Jessica Yadegaran / Bay Area News Group)

The Lot

The original food cart pod, The Lot has been feeding locals and delighting visitors who stumble upon its west side residential-ish locale since 2013. Just a few blocks from Mirror Pond, The Lot offers four food carts – Fricken Faco, BND Burgz N Dogz , Maki Maki Sushi and A La Carte, a fries, salad and taco concept – and a bar counter serving beer, cider, kombucha, hard seltzer and wine from 16 rotating taps.

The focus is on regional beers, but they have a good selection from around the world. In the summer months, its garage doors remain open and the built-in seating is delightfully open-air; but they close them in the cooler months and crank up the heated benches (yes!) making it a cozy, self-contained food hall-meets-taproom. Don’t miss the lava rock wall and gas fire pit.

Fricken Faco, a chicken and fish concept, is one of four food trucks permanently parked at The Lot in Bend. (Jessica Yadegaran / Bay Area News Group)

Food pick: Gotta give it up to Fricken Faco’s clever lineup of fried chicken and fish taco offerings. We liked the two-taco combo of crispy, fried Pacific Northwest cod served with tomatillo-avocado salsa and cilantro-lime aioli ($ 11). Got chicken envy? Get an order of hand-breaded, fried-to-order nuggets with sweet maple bacon sauce ($ 11).

Details: Open 11 am to 9 pm daily at 745 NW Columbia St. in Bend; www.thelotbend.com.

The Podski offers a picnic-like lot next door with benches and a bevy of food carts. (Courtesy of The Podski)

The Podski

Situated across from the Box Factory, between downtown and the Old Mill, The Podski features a picnic-inspired lot with multiple food carts offering a dizzying array of options, from Thai street food and Mexican tacos to chef-driven sushi, grandmother-approved pierogis and even charcuterie. Did we mention Podski Show? (In case you need a blowout between bites.)

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